SPIEGEL: Mr. Al Jalawi you are a famous poet in your home country of Bahrain but you are now seeking refuge in Germany. Why?
Al Jalawi: Following the democratic protests in February, there have been raids across the country and many people have been imprisoned. I recited a poem to demonstrators on a large square in the center of the capital Manama. Afterwards I heard that my parents had been visited by the security forces and I knew that I would have to leave Bahrain. First, I travelled to Lebanon and then came to Germany.
SPIEGEL: What were you afraid might happen?
Al Jalawi: In the 1990s I was in prison twice. The first time I was imprisoned because of a poem that I wrote when I was 17 and the second time it was because I had joined a campaign for political rights. I was tortured and I do not ever want to experience that again.
SPIEGEL: Has violence against writers increased in recent months?
Al Jalawi: There were always three big taboos which were not to be written about: sex, religion and politics. If you wrote about them you would go straight to prison. In recent years the situation improved a bit but now it is as bad as it has ever been. I know two writers who died after spending two days in prison.
SPIEGEL: What are your plans in Germany?
Al Jalawi: My temporary visa has just expired but fortunately the writers' organisation PEN arranged a fellowship for me in Weimar. I am very grateful -- it saved me from a lengthy asylum application.
SPIEGEL: Do you believe that the situation in Bahrain will soon change?
Al Jalawi: No. The royal family and the ministers have been in power for a very long time and they will do every thing they can to extend their power. I think that I will have to stay in Germany for a long time. But even though my country is a desert, I want to go back. I left my wife and 10-year-old son behind.
Interview conducted by Johan Dehoust
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